Tuesday, September 8, 2020

The Ferals

Getting used to this lonely life and I am doing OK.

We are not allowed to have dinner parties anymore, so for company, I invited the Feral family. No fancy dinnerware needed and no fine glasses; melamine will do fine.  MissTea is waiting on the grill and she brought her grumpy face with her.  She doesn’t like to wait. The lovely Marilyn has chosen her seat and their patient Ma Bucks, will eat their scraps when they are done.

Yes, quarantine is playing with my mind. 

Monday, August 3, 2020

Wouldn’t You Love to Fly.

Hot as Hades here, but I am doing OK.

We had a lovely surprise last evening.  Three colorful hot air balloons went over our house.  I could hear the whoosh and looked up and there in the clearing of my woods (which was made so by the wind storm that broke and brought down many trees a month or so ago), I saw this beautiful sight,

I wouldn’t have seen it through the 60’ to 100’ trees before and so as sad as I was to see and pay for all that destruction,  the thrill of  having a view of  the balloons made up for it.  Well somewhat.  Two more came and I thought there was a chance that one would land on the fields across from me.  It wasn’t to be and off they went to possibly the golf course about three or four miles away.

Many years ago, My Pre-Retired Man and I took a sunset balloon ride.  We hopped into the basket and up, up, up we went and then stopped still. We waited and looked out at our friends and family directly below who kept waving and cheering us on for 25 minutes. There wasn’t a breeze in the air.  Our ride was scheduled for half an hour and we were running out of time and hope.  The pilot, or Aeronaut, as they are called, started the descent to the ground to the exact spot we had taken off and we thought all hope was lost for having our adventure.  Half way down, a whiff of air came and we moved a few hundred yards.  Then a larger one came and off we went for about a mile or two.   We glided thru the air and it was glorious for a few minutes.  Our allotted time was up and a landing was spotted at a school playground. Unfortunately, the driver miscalculated a little and we tore thru some tall trees before making a landing.  No harm done, we just ducked. Getting out of the basket was not as graceful as getting in and I am glad those photos can no longer be found.  Our entourage had followed us in their cars and after I got up off the grass, we all celebrated with some cheap Champagne in paper cups.  I often use this story as a metaphor for my life.   I have been given some nice opportunities, but I have never really gotten far, and that’s OK.  The ride has been bumpy at times and will never be long enough. The highs have taken me to wonderful places and given me precious memories.  Ducking has saved me numerous times. When the landing comes, though, I hope for some better Champagne, served in a lovely crystal flute. I am not going out without a party.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

A Breather

The sun is out, the birds are chirping and I am OK.

I am not going to listen to any news today or even read any on the Internet. I have designated this day as an Arleen’s Escape From All the Crap Day.

It is summer and some might say it is hot (88 F) but it is not too humid. I am more than blessed to have a small screen room that keeps the sun off me and a lovely fan three feet away (socially distanced) from my face. On a day like this last year, I might have been visiting a local winery with family and/or friends to enjoy the ambience, the music and a lovely glass of Sangria.  Since I am too damn old and vulnerable  to be out and about during Covid time,  I made my own little retreat and followed the winery’s recipe using their peach wine,  a splash of Chardonnay, ice tea ( yes, ice tea) and then added some strawberries I found in the freezer.  I used a pretty stemless glass as they do.  I asked Alexa to play me some sweet music and she has picked out just the right songs for me to enjoy.  She knows me too well, but that is another story.  I can’t have what was, I have to deal with what is, but gees, I need a break and I am grateful for today. Maybe I should extend  it to Arleen’s Escape All The Crap Week.

Monday, June 15, 2020

I Don’t Know What To do Next

Confusing times, confusing minds, but I am OK- maybe

All great changes are preceded by chaos.”  Deepak Chapra

Blogger is going to change. Oh Lord, on top of all we have been dealing with, do I really need this? How much of a change will it be?  Should I check it out now and face the inevitable?  Will it be so different that it will bring more anxiety into my life? Am I so old that I am no longer open to change?  (I know that answer).  Will my whole post be in question marks?

Captivity In Covid times with My Retired Man and two indoor and three outdoor cats was difficult at first, but is now doable. We venture out to drive around and silently judge those sitting at outdoor restaurants who don’t seem to have a care in the world. We hate them. Our state is in the process of opening up, but the virus is still here and we are at risk people.  Everything is delivered to our house or we order and have a no-contact pickup.  Wiping packages with disinfectant wipes gives us something to do.  My wardrobe is very casual and doesn’t vary  between day and night. Long showers and baths are some of the best moments of the day. Social distancing occasions with family in my yard is more than a joy, they are everything.  I have adapted to this change, sort of.

My outside environment is different now also and I have learned new words, Derecho, Mesoscale Convective, and graupel. (Actually, graupel was from a storm of a few weeks ago).  Some of you might know what they are, but I didn’t until the weather people told us what caused the destruction in my neighborhood last week.  We will be paying people a lot of money to cut up the large parts of trees that fell on our property.  It is hard to look out and see all the broken trees,  but we are very fortunate that the 60+ foot trees didn’t fall on our house.  We will handle this  Many others weren’t so lucky.

We are all dealing with so many changes and these are such difficult times.  Some should have come long, long ago and others, well, no one could ever have been ready for what this virus has done to us all.  I live in a bleeding nation and it’s wounds are deep. On June 1st, a very dark day for democracy in the US, my heart was broken by what I heard and saw in my beloved country.   I went to bed thinking how could this be happening here. The next day I woke up and saw that the world was with us in support of what is just.  Bless you all. Our eyes all need to be opened and change MUST come.

I leave you hoping that I will have the whereabouts to figure out Blogger next month.  If I was only able to see my grandchildren, I know they could help me.  I am on my own but I will carry on, hoping more brain cells don’t pop.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Conversations During Lockdown

Time is not flying by, but I am doing OK.

He (being kind and thoughtful),“You should drink one of those protein drinks that I got for you.”

She (not being in the mood for a protein drink), “hmmm.”

He (being kind and thoughtful), “ What flavor would you like.”

She (not really wanting one now), “ I don’t know.”

He (being kind and thoughtful), “There are two flavors, chocolate and peach.”

She (looking for an out), “I hate peach”.

He (being kind and thoughtful), “ I thought you liked peach.  That is why I bought it for you.”

She (feeing a twinge of guilt), “No, it is not my favorite.”

He (feeling hurt), “Why don’t you just try it.”

She (feeling pressured), “I DON’T like it.”

He (feeling attacked),” I am just trying to help you.”

She (not wanting to be helped, but wanting the conversation to stop), “I’ll drink the chocolate.”

He (being kind and thoughtful), “OK, I’ll get that for you now.”

She (not wanting it now), “hmmm.”

He (an hour later), “You never finished your protein drink that I thought you wanted.”

To be repeated the next day.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020


I am doing a lot of meditation (not medication -yet) and I am doing reasonably OK.

“Stay in place, isolate, and  quarantine” are the words we are hearing a lot today.  I am a social person; I love and need people to talk to and visit and loneliness hits me hard.  I have been doing a lot of walking on our empty roads with My Retired Man in order to escape the walls of my house. With spring almost here, that has  been very pleasant, however, I am missing my family very much.

So, what can be done to lift my spirits.  My son came up with a perfect solution.  He set up a Face Time conference call/party for all of the family.  I dressed up in my best Lily Tomlin flowing outfit, fixed my hair, and added some color to my pale face. I set a party scene, added Lysol and  sanitizer and waited for the call.

My iPad rang at 8:30 pm, and there we all were.  My new granddaughter had grown in the week since I last saw her, and she was able to open up her eyes for a few moments and that made me smile broadly.  My other five granddaughters, my children and their spouses and partner were all there and we laughed and enjoyed each other’s company for an hour and a half.  It was a great time and we plan on doing it weekly. 

The next few months will be very hard and I have a lot of fear.  Communication is so important. Staying in touch, whether just by phone or an app, is necessary during this time.  This virus knows no boarders, doesn’t care what God you worship, will infect the good and the bad, the rich and the poor and will leave us all changed forever.  It is time to forgive those who hurt us, and to speak of love with those we treasure.  We don’t want to let things unsaid. 

I leave you with a picture of my new granddaughter.  She has the right message.

Take good care of yourself.  I care about you all. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

The Fat Lady Has Not Sung

There are always surprises to be had, and that is OK.

Our lives are divided into sections: childhood, adulthood, career, possibly parenthood, maybe grandparent, and then, old as dirt. I have gone through them all and as I like to say, I am still standing. Each phase has brought its blessings, and what was difficult is often muffled with time.  Old brains tend to do that. There is nothing sweeter, though, that when you think something is over, and it isn’t.  I am going to have a new grandbaby tomorrow, a little girl named Scarlett Mara Rose. It is a wonderful surprise and my heart is so full. I have six terrific grandchildren, some of whom are in college and the others are not far behind.  I have tried to give them my presence, my time, my wisdom and all my love.  Now there will be a new life in mine, a new child to hold, a new love to have. She will not get all the years that I was able to give to the others so I will have to pack a lot of kisses into the time that I have with her.  

I have been doing a lot of crying lately over things that I cannot control, but now there is joy again, precious, wonderful joy!

Monday, January 20, 2020

For Cro

Music fills my soul and I am doing OK.
My blogging friend for many years, Cro Magnon, lives in a lovely area in Southern France.  He is a sustainable farmer, a talented artist, and a lover of good food.  He writes about grandchildren, recipes, dogs, his beautiful home and sometimes politics (the last of which I ignore). People can be friends even if we don’t agree on everything. I appreciate all types of music, but I am especially fond of folk and country songs.  This is one of my favorites and I think Cro would like and relate to it also (with a different color wine).
Old dogs and Children and Watermelon Wine.
How old do you think I am?" he said.
I said, well, I didn't know.
He said, "I turned 65 about 11 months ago."
I was sittin' in miami pourin' blended whiskey down
When this old gray black gentleman was cleanin' up the lounge
There wasn't anyone around 'cept this old man and me
The guy who ran the bar was watchin' "ironsides" on tv
Uninvited, he sat down and opened up his mind
On old dogs and children and watermelon wine
"Ever had a drink of watermelon wine?" he asked
He told me all about it, though I didn't answer back
"Ain't but three things in this world that's worth a solitary dime,
But old dogs and children and watermelon wine."
He said, "women think about they-selves, when menfolk ain't around.
And friends are hard to find when they discover that you're down."
He said, "I tried it all when I was young and in my natural prime;
Now it's old dogs and children and watermelon wine."
"Old dogs care about you even when you make mistakes;
God bless little children while they're still too young to hate."
When he moved away I found my pen and copied down that line
'Bout old dogs and children and watermelon wine.
I had to catch a plane up to atlanta that next day
As I left for my room I saw him pickin' up my change
That night I dreamed in peaceful sleep of shady summertime
Of old dogs and children and watermelon wine.
Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Tom T. Hall

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Merry Christmas and Happy Amazoning

I considered getting an ugly Christmas sweater, but I didn’t, and that’s OK.

I am not a traditionalist as I have always preferred my own ideas.  I do stick with the fundamentals, but just because someone from years ago thought it right to eat this or that over the holidays or put tinsel on a tree, does not mean that I should.   I have changed things around over the years and my family has gone along with it - mostly. The tree decorated with pink raffia, though, tested them.  However,  I am slowing down and that vast pool of ideas that I used to have has dissipated and easy (boring) is now my only choice.  I got the tree up, but not to my satisfaction. I thought of redoing it, but I decided to get over that. My list of presents to get everyone was so ho hum, and nothing special.  It bothered me, but I got over it. Some decorations are showing their age and should be replaced, but I look the other way, and got over it.  What we all are going to eat has not really been planned but I do have a number of take out brochures and Costco is close by, so I have a default.  It will all work out and if not, they will all get over it.  The good thing for everybody (and me) is that one of my daughters is in charge of Christmas dinner.

All the above are the trivial things that I stress about.  I cannot say that they are unimportant, but they are not my main focus.  My California family will be arriving on Saturday; my college age grandchildren will be coming home for a few weeks, and my sisters will be visiting. I am so looking forward to lots of hugging.  Love is what matters and laughter and memories shared is a priceless gift.  I am blessed, and I don't take it for granted.

However you spend the holidays, traditional or not, I hope that you have and receive joy.  I know how holidays can be very difficult for many, and I send you my love.  I am not a person of prayer, but I am of hope and heart, and you all have a special place in mine.  If you have the opportunity, reach out to others because, as we all know, the giving of your time is greatest gift of all.

Be kind to yourself and and remember you don’t have to drink that eggnog, eat the green mushy casserole or the fish with it's head still attached unless you like that tradition.

Merry Christmas and a Happier New Year.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Eat the Cake

I wrote this a few months ago but never finished it.  Today, with The Retired Man out all day and the seat by the computer empty, I decided it was time to write or complete a post.  I am staying current with you all on my tablet but my time at my very slow computer has been limited.  We, hopefully, will be getting a laptop soon, and I will be able to use it in another part of the house that has not be claimed as his retiring room.

I am winding down and I am doing OK.

My summer days are long past and I am in the later part of autumn.  It has its advantages (no more pimples) and I embrace them and accept (mostly) what I cannot change.   My leaves have been falling but root rot has not quite taken over yet.  I recalculate daily and make choices based on comfort.  I still look for joy and fun and laughter because without them, I would lose hope. During my adult life I have taken semi-good care of myself and am glad that those good habits, good genes, and luck have brought me to this age still standing vertical and with some active brain cells.  I no longer am a master at trivia, but the things that have always been important to me are still strong in my mind, although it takes longer to retrieve.

I am now, though, rethinking some of my good habits and wondering why I need to keep them up anymore. Time is going by so quickly and I shouldn’t be denying myself any pleasures. 

I often go out to lunch with my friends and we ladies, all in our 70's, discuss the calories we are consuming and choose the meals that have less. We then order one dessert and split it between us but always leave the last spoonful. We have done this for 40 years.  It made sense when we were young but now that our veins have turned blue and the laws of physics have taken over, it might be time to relax and maybe eat the whole thing.  I just might go crazy next time and order my own dessert.

Now that I have gotten to this new age of reason, my mantra will be, "Drink the wine, eat the cake and feel no guilt".  I might also get rid of that damn scale.

Since I originally wrote this post, I took my granddaughter to the city where we had lunch on a docked, tall sailing ship.  It was lovely and we had a great time.  She would not even consider sharing her dessert, so I ordered two.   She is only 16, but she is teaching me things.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

It’s All About The Fat

Time is going by too fast, but I am doing OK

We lost our ice cream store last fall.  It has been part of the town for over 100 years and although there are other creameries around, none could compare to Nelson's. The texture was so smooth and rich, the flavors were divine, and it contained more than an average amount of fat. They had won many prizes for their quality but for some reason, the owners sold off the recipe and closed the store.  This week something wonderful happened.  They are back in business, and I think they are better than ever (probably even more fat). They have not returned to their former home but are selling it in gallon containers in a local grocery market and at a few small cafes where we can get it served in a cup or a variety of cones.  Summer might be waning but there is still much to look forward to and enjoy.  It’s about those little things that I love, the simple joys.

I wrote a post a few years ago about an August evening at this dairy store and I thought this would be a good time to do something I seldom do, a reboot from 2015.

No Phone Zone

On lovely evenings in the summer, with the sun still high in the sky and the air so pleasant, there is nothing nicer than visiting the local dairy bar. We had finished a long day in the gardens, cutting back bushes, removing debris and completing all the tasks that one must do to keep the area from looking like a jungle. I decided that we deserved a reward.  We got the car keys and headed off to our town's little piece of heaven.  There must have been about 40 gourmet flavors to choose from and all looked so good.  I felt like a 10 year old with big eyes while staring longingly through the glass partition hoping for inspiration to make the right choice.  It was my most difficult decision of the week.   As we sat outside on a picnic table devouring our luscious, frozen delicacies, we watched the steady stream of customers coming by with friends and family to also take advantage of the perfect August night. What I noticed was that this was a place where no one had their phones out.  Everybody was talking to each other face to face.  Children were laughing and playing rather than checking social media.  All it takes to really connect people is a cone of melting double dip ice cream.

I hope you are all enjoying a simple pleasure today.

Monday, July 1, 2019

The Livin’ is Finally Easy

It is a sum, sum, summertime, and I am doing OK.

Today is a day without clouds, wind, threat of damaging storms, tornadoes, hail, hurricanes, floods, power outages, falling trees, heat waves, and humidity.  I had almost forgotten what people do on a glorious day like this, but I intend to enjoy it all, even if I am just puttering around in my gardens. After all, that which is rare should be embraced and treasured.  You never know when another will come along.

I hope you are all having a beautiful day.

For Shady: Summertime, Summertime by the Jamies

It's time to head straight for them hills
It's time to live and have some thrills
Come along and have a ball
A regular free-for-all

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Time Marches On

Getting through some days can be as unpredictable as the weather, but I am doing OK.

I have a birthday in June and will be celebrating an age that I associate more with my mother than myself.  Society defines us all by numbers and that’s a bummer.  I like to think of myself as being in my mid 40’s and 5’6” tall.  I was never taller than 5’4”, but if I am going to fantasize, why not taller, thinner and younger than some of my children.

 A few weeks ago I went into Philadelphia to see my son who was participating in a ten mile race.  It was raining out but not hard enough to deter the runners or the crowds.

Andy had been training for months and did really well. I was a very proud momma when we saw him come down Broad Street at a the six mile mark. The smile on his face was wonderful to see.  His wife and I then took the subway to meet him at the finish line.  It was a madhouse at the station but we did get the first train and squished our bodies in like sardines in a can. There were no seats available so we had to hang onto the pole which has its challenges but I was fine with that. I have not traveled the subway in many years and I thought this short ride would be fun.  Three times I was offered a seat and people looked at me oddly because I refused.  I appreciated their kindness and consideration, but I am still lucky enough to be able to stand, walk, run, and even chew gum at the same time.  They saw an old lady; they didn’t see me.  The years have changed my body, my face, and yes, my stamina, but not who I am;  a very stubborn woman who is going out of this world fighting and with the conviction that I can still do it.  

I ain’t done yet, and neither is my son.  He is now training for a half marathon.  He’s got grit too.

Thank you for all your well wishes.  It has been a difficult few months and I have lost some very dear people in my life.  It was hard, but as I always say at the beginning of my blog, I am doing OK.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Gone for Awhile

I got some bad news today, but I will be OK

I only write a post once a month so most will not miss me, but I do comment on your posts often and try to keep the conversation going between those I have met and admired on Blogger.  Reading your blogs is a joy in my life.  Today was a difficult day and I need some time to get through this.  I will be back, but I need to go away for a little while.

Stay well.


Monday, March 4, 2019

Where Oh Where Did I Put My Funny Bone

Today I am doing OK.

My sense of humor has been lost for awhile and there are some moments when I think I see signs of it, but if I try to get a hold of it, pop, it disappears. I have become Serious Arleen and am bordering on Debbie Downer.  It has been a hard few years living in a country where the pot seems to be boiling over; there is so much negative noise; and, well, it is always raining (at least, where I live).  I need to laugh more, tell funny stories, be silly, relax and chill out. Today, is a good beginning because I woke up this morning to blue skies and the beautiful sun shinning down on one of the loveliest snow scenes I have seen in years.  

Those of you who have read my blog before know that from January to March, I bitch and bitch and bitch about Mother Nature.  The darkness plays with my mind and it is all about getting thru it rather than celebrating the days. Driving  is always a problem and at this point in March, I hate the idea of more shoveling.   

This storm came in the evening, and although I did not see any wind, the power to my house went out.  There was no other choice than to get under the covers and go to sleep.  At 6 AM, I awoke to the blinding sun piercing through the curtains and bouncing off the newly laid snow.  It was so beautiful and I couldn't help but smile.  I looked out the front door and the snow plows had already done their work during the night and despite having seven inches of snow, the roads were clear.  The power company was also busy and the heat was back on.

I got on Facebook to read what my neighbors were saying about the roads and came across this:
If  you choose not to find joy in the snow, you will have less joy in your life, 
but the same amount of snow.

I liked that!  There is a lot of wisdom there.

The Retired Man shoveled the driveway with our handy, dandy Toro power shovel snow thrower and he had no complaints (another reason to smile). I will be starting my inside seeds this week, and I found a great recipe for some leftover meat for a nice dinner tonight.  All is well.

Then the mail came with some local tax bills, but I will open them another day.  Today is for joy and the beautiful things that surround me.  Who knows, my funny bone might show up also. It might be hiding among the dust bunnies under my bed.  I never look there.

Thursday, January 31, 2019


Looking for my thermals, and I am doing OK.

There is some extremely cold air coming our way in the next few days and we are being told that it might go to where it has never gone before, temperature wise. To those in the Midwest who might look at us Pennsylvanians as wusses because they are suffering with -50 F and ours is only -6, I’d bow to you but I don’t want to freeze in that position.  You do have my sympathy though.

People will be coming over on Sunday to watch the Superbowl game and the warmth of friends will be all I need.  I so enjoy company and being around those I love.  Retirement can be lonely, especially after having an always busy life.  The winter always seems so long and the Big Game is a good excuse to have a party and forget about the cold outside.  

All those with a beating heart need companionship of some sort, even if they are not of the same species.  Warmth comes from inside and outside our bodies. We live longer, are happier, and our brain lasts longer.  Our four legged friends know this.

Caesar, the cat, doesn't know he is different than Champ and Brandy.
He loves them and appreciates that they keep him warm.  Friends do that.

He just needs to be in charge

Ellie and Finn are siblings and could not be more different looking and in temperament,
but family is family and they would be lost without each other.

A family of semi-feral cats who need each other (and us) to survive.
They are needy and I love to be needed. 

Then there is us, an old married couple.  It was really cold outside so I thought I would put my boa on.

Yes, it is real.  This was not on my bucket list, but it was fun.

Stay warm, cuddle up with a warm blanket, read a good book, or do a marathon of Netflix films. Better yet, call an old friend.   

Monday, December 17, 2018

From My Home To Yours

The halls are decked and the bells are jingling and I am doing OK.

Retirement gives you lots of free time, but when it comes to “have to do’s, I am a procrastinator.  There are still some things to be attended to before the holidays, like wrapping, cooking, cleaning, etc, etc., etc. and my California family will arrive on Friday.  I am now in full-speed-ahead mode, so I was up and out of the house early to deliver some gifts and then off to Costco to buy some items that come in large sizes and amounts.  I was in a great mood and taste tested all the foods that the lovely, white netted hair ladies were offering.  The best part of that store is grazing.  I tasted some Bruschetta that was yummy, and went over to the display to buy a jar. It was down on a lower shelf so it took some maneuvering, especially since I was in a tight space and had the giant cart.  As I got myself up, I saw someone behind me so I moved my cart in order for him to get by.  He rushed past me and I heard him say, “ Now she moves” in a very sarcastic manner.  First, I felt bad that I was holding him up, and then became angry and thought of some remarks I should have said to him.  My mood changed.  I checked out and then went straight to the cafeteria to get myself some frozen yogurt to cool down (a good excuse to eat a sweet).  The sugar worked and I forgave that grumpy old man and walked out of the store in the same good spirit that I had when I entered. As I approached my car I saw something hanging in my door handle.  My gloves, my favorite gloves, were tucked in tight. They must have dropped when I got out of the car and a passing stranger found them and secured them to the handle so they would not blow away.  It was an act of kindness that I truly appreciated.  Yes, there are a few Scrooge’s out there who will only care about themselves, but there are many, many more thoughtful people who go out of their way to make life better for others.   

So from my home to yours, May your holidays be filled with kindness and joy and may that spread to those you love and those that pass your way. Even in difficult times, we should appreciate all the blessings that surround us, big and small.

Friday, November 30, 2018

O Tannenbaum, or in my case, Oh, Tannenbaum

December is hours away, and I am doing OK

My children were kind enough to bring  up my old "forever" Christmas tree from the basement after a Thanksgiving dinner last week.  It is showing its age and some lights refuse to twinkle.  I can relate.  It is in its spot by the window and there it has stood naked for days while I try to ignore the whole darn thing.  Wednesday, I tackled it and brought up the first box of "stuff".  There are six more, but because of my lack of  ho, ho, ho this year, I  knew I could not handle any more.  I took out the first box in the box and carefully hung eleven ornaments.  My back started to hurt, so I needed to sit down and contemplate the whole matter and decided Thursday would be a better day for decorating.  Unfortunately, it had slipped my mind (happens often) that the next day I had to go to work and there would not be enough hours left to do a proper job.  Plan C would be to do it on the next rainy day which happens nearly everyday here. So I was committed and I got the freeking tree up.  I did it, it is done, and I would like to say, the spirit of Christmas is alive and well in my abode.  Well, kind of , sort of , maybe.  I'll just get that can of Sparkling Spruce air freshener spray and see if that works some magic.  That and a lovely glass of fine wine just might have me Fa la la-ing.

Daisy was not any help and hopefully she will enjoy the tree from afar, and not on one of the branches.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Ina, Ina, Ina

I plan on making soup on this blustery autumn day and I am doing OK.

Ina Garten, a patron saint of all good things to eat, is my idol.  Look at that happy face, with the beautiful cheekbones, and smiling eyes.  Then look down to that large bowl of something especially good that she has made.  Who couldn't love that woman!!

I used to be a decent cook (although my kids might question that statement) but now I am a forgetful cook.  I confess to missing  an ingredient or an instruction every now and then and having to scramble when I finally see my mistake. I have found that flour, seasoning and hot sauce can fix many things.  When that doesn't work, I forget about the whole thing and make reservations.

Ina, though, is perfect.  On her show, The Barefoot Contessa, there are no spills or splatters, and she never loses her cool or drops a piece of chicken on the floor.  She speaks in a tone of voice that assures you that you can do the same. Then there is Jeffrey, her husband, a very genteel man.  He strolls in the house with a smile, kisses his wife, says about five words and then disappears. You don’t get a more perfect spouse than that.   Ina will have a guest or two to entertain and they may be a celebritity or just a well-heeled neighbor who is going by the script and may be being paid with a lunch/dinner made by Ina.  The show ends with them all eating outside in her perfect garden on a perfect table as they converse in a perfect manner.  No loud laughing and burps are ever heard.

If  wishes came true and I could have but one, it would be to get an invitation for lunch at her lovely home in the Hamptons.  I would dress well (no yoga pants), make sure I use the right fork, and talk about the lovely things in the world.  When Jeffrey strolled by, I would compliment him on his tie, and then let him have his usual 30 second conversation with his wife.   He would drift off to wherever it is he goes, and then Ina would go into the kitchen and bring out the most scrumptious and beautiful dessert that I have ever seen.  She would place it in front of me, I would thank her, and then I would probably sneeze all over the creamy topping because I am allergic to Jeffrey’s cologne.  Nothing really is perfect, not even in my dreams.

Ina Garten's new book, Cook Like a Pro, is now available.  I have bought and used her book, Make it Ahead, with success.  It is perfect for me as my explosion in the kitchen is cleaned up before guests arrive and they never need to know about the chicken on the floor.


Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The Invasion

We went from sweating to sweaters in a day, and I am OK.

This summer we had a new visitor.  Isn't he/she beautiful?

It is a Spotted Lantern Fly.

Having first appeared in 2014 in some cargo from the East, this invasive, killing machine has taken over a large part of southeastern Pennsylvania trees and is now moving into other states.  Their favorite hang out is the Ailanthus Altissima, a weed tree which grows in abundance in woods and fields.  From there they spread out to grape vines, fruit, Willow, Maples, pines, and timber trees.  As they get more used to the environment, it is thought that it will harm other varieties.  My neighbor, down the road, had three apple trees that are now without leaves and fruit.  According to the PA Department of Agriculture, “Trees will develop weeping wounds.  These wounds will leave a grayish or black trail along the trunk and the ground beneath will become black with their secretions."  It is said that on average, each one of these pests will lay 100 eggs and these masses are all over the bark of many, many trees.  There is little that can be done about them as they have no natural predators.  We are told to scrape the eggs off, which is not an easy task, especially if you are short and leery of long ladders. Swatting these bugs is exhausting as there are too many to even make a dent in the population.  A systemic insecticide seems to work but we have a few acres of woods behind our property and it would be cost prohibitive to do all of them.  They pose a multi-billion dollar threat to our state's economy because of the damage they do to wine and hops (OH, NO) fruit, logging, landscaping and other industries.  A friend works at a small airport and these bugs have infested most of the trees on their 200 acres of property.  He showed a video of them crawling up one tree, and there were thousands. I am sparing you the video, as it is disgusting.  The fear that some of these pests will hitch a ride on a plane and spread this threat is very real.  Right now it is like the plague of the locusts, they are all over, and it is not pleasant to be outside.

This picture was taken over a month ago on one of my trees.  There are many more bugs on it now.  

My beautiful Willow was a victim of the SLF.  We thought it looked stressed as its leaves were spotted and turning yellow in June.  We planned on calling an arborist in, but did not get the chance.  We woke up one Sunday morning with the tree on our house.

When it came down, we saw the that it was covered with the nymphs and the egg masses were all over the bark.  My Retired Man and I worked rapidly to get the tree off the house, probably to the chagrin of our neighbors who I am sure were not happy to be woken up early on a Sunday morning with the buzzing of a saw.  We got a good deal of it cleaned up but were beyond happy to see that our landscape helper "just" happened to be passing our house and stopped by to see what he could do.   It took a few days but it eventually got all cleaned up.  There was no damage to the house as Willow is a soft wood, but there was some to my heart.  I loved that tree.

He left the stump and told us to call someone else to remove it. I decided to keep it and made what I call "Memorial to Willow".  I wrapped fairy lights around it because I always overdo.

The grass is beginning to grow back and so is something else.  It is just one branch, but you never know.

 I call it Hope.


Thursday, August 16, 2018

A Natural Woman

We lost a great lady today, but how lucky we are that she was here in our lifetime.  I am doing OK.

She went by two names, but everyone knew her as Aretha.  No one, and I mean, no one, could belt songs out like her.  Fame is fleeting,  but her talent was not.  Two, and probably three  generations knew and loved her and danced and sang along to her music from the soul.

I found out about her death from my Retired Man, who spends his time each day in front of the TV watching political shows.  It drives me CRAZY.  Around 10:30 AM, he called out to me  about an alert on the news. He said that the station he was watching had gathered together some talking heads to discuss the tweets or the always breaking story of the day, but the moderator interrupted them and said, “Excuse me, we have an important announcement, Aretha Franklin has died.”  From then on, politics stopped, and a person of talent and character was the subject.  I left for work at noon and they were still playing her music.  What an improvement on their daily schedule!  I drove to and from work and both ways the station I was listening to (public radio) was playing only Aretha.  At home, I turned on the World News and the top story was Aretha.  We went out for a quick dinner and came home and found out that the program schedule had changed and instead of some nonsense, there was a program honoring Aretha.

It is all about Aretha today, and so it should be.  She upstaged them all. And yes,  she made me feel, she made me feel.....

We lost a treasure.  Rest In Peace, dear lady, you always had our love and RESPECT.  You sang us through the good times and the bad and we are grateful.  We were privileged to know your Amazing Grace.

Monday, August 13, 2018


I need my high waders, but I am doing OK.

It has not been the summer that I expected, but then, what can anybody expect today with crazy weather patterns all over.   When it rained most of April, well, you know, April showers.  May brought more liquid sunshine than usual, but May is spring and we need it to help the flowers grow.  By June, I was getting water-logged but I was awed by the beautiful green terrain. By July, I was becoming pissed with so many events threatened by storms.  Then came August, our last hope.  It has poured or been predicted to pour almost every day.  Today, I awoke to what sounded like a monsoon.  Rain is coming down 2" to 6" an hour in the area.  Part of my yard looks like this. 

The weathercasters are saying this will continue all day, with threats of more tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, etc. etc.  Needless to say, we are breaking all records, and not ones we want.

Our western states are going through droughts and fires and it is all so terrible.  I am also hearing that the normally green UK is also having an unusual dry year and can use some showers. Hopefully, you are enjoying the sun and plants without mildew. 

I just returned from a wonderful trip to the Monterrey area of California.  They have no rain, but they do have fog, lots of fog, for half a day.  This keeps the area cool in the AM and usual afternoon temperatures in the 70s F. It was perfect, especially coming from the east where it has been sweltering, with high humidity, precipitation, and lots of bugs that bite.

My day, though, is planned.  I will worry.  The Retired Man had to go into the city today, and I am concerned about how he will get home.  My son and DIL took my grandson to Penn State (3 hours away) today to start his college years, and I will chew my fingernails until they get home.   

Oh my, the sun just came out!  I live in hope (and anxiety).

One hour later - black clouds are forming.

Time to eat a few cookies.  Sugar in my belly makes everything better.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Twists and Turns and then Splat

I took a break to deal with life. It used to be easier, but I am doing OK.

The road of life is full of twists and turns, a lot of bumps and quite a few roadblocks.  As we round corners we hope to be met by the bluebird of happiness, but sometimes it is a cackling crow.  I hate detours because I am directionally handicapped and always fear that I will lose my way, but somehow, miraculously, I find my way back home.  This is where I am safe, where I am loved and where my flowers grow.  Oh, there are hazards with steps and stairs, and more so recently, but I am familiar with the landscape, and I walk more carefully. The world seems to have become more harsh and more difficult to navigate and what I could have never imagined being acceptable is now tolerated and embraced. It is what it is, I say to myself, but I have tears for the children and what has been lost. I move forward, somewhat unsteady, with hope for today, some fear for tomorrows and with good memories of yesterdays.

I wrote that a month or so ago and decided not to publish.  However, I wanted you all to know that I really had not abandoned Blogger, but was just in a funky mood and not trusting my feelings.  I have, though, experienced some lovely times the past few months.  My family visited from the other side of the country.  That week brought me much happiness and it was a wonderful, busy time.  They moved away twenty years ago, and I still have an ache in my heart because of the distance between us.  Their visits mean the world to me. 

I went to a lantern festival in June with my sisters.  It was one of the most glorious sights I have ever seen and I got to share it with loved ones (and it was my birthday).  There were 13,000 people in attendance and approximately 12,997 lanterns went up in the air without much trouble.   Here, though, we were blessed by the kindness of strangers.  Perhaps, it was because they wanted to be helpful, or maybe they were afraid that we would burn down the field.  Our lanterns did eventually fly free, although, one was burning up as people ducked for cover as it passed up and down thru the crowd. 

Then I got my outside room.  It is smaller than I had hoped, but I love it and seven people and my large furniture fit nicely inside.   I have spent many hours out there, enjoying all the wonderful sounds of summer without the company of biting bugs and scorching sun.  Screens make me happy. I am still decorating it and redecorating it and moving things around.  I should get it right by the end of summer. The best part though, is having friends and family over to enjoy the beauty of a summer night with us. 

I have vacation plans this summer and I will be accompanied by one of my lovely granddaughters. What could be better than that! California, here we come! 

Thank you for stopping by. I am sorry that I have been missing for such a long time, and I will try to do better. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Simple Pleasures

The Magnolias are in bloom and I am doing OK.

It is the season of being busy, and although I may complain about an aching back, my mind is in a very good place. The sun is shining, the cherry, peach, and apple trees are magnificent and spring flowers are popping up all over.  The weather and my attitude has changed for the better.  There is so much work to be done and I think I am up to it, but, if not, there is a young man I have hired to help me when needed.  I did not want to do this as I have always prided myself on being self-sufficient (aka, Superwoman, without the cape, body and ability to fly), and giving into aging was not in my plan.  However, there are jobs that I just don't want to do anymore, like cutting down and pulling out bushes, cleaning out garden beds, and putting down ten yards of mulch. They just are not fun!  I will assist my helper with the mulch, but he will shovel and I will spread.  It is a control issue with me and besides, I am paying by the hour and I want to hurry him along.  I will still be designing my gardens, planting new flowers and tiding up after perennials because that is where I find my joy - in the dirt. 

With the warm weather, I want to be outside as much of the time as possible so the Retired Man and I  have decided to spend our children's inheritance on ourselves and will be having a new outdoor room built. I am so looking forward to this and am hoping for many lovely days and evenings kicking back with a cold beverage, watching somebody else work, and being thankful for the simple pleasures that life can bring in the summertime.

On another note, our family has expanded this last month.  We have two new granddogs thanks to my daughter and her family.  They are rescue pups and are my favorite breed, Heinz 57 (varieties).  It was a litter of 11 pups and it appears that there was more than one daddy involved. Two of them look like St. Bernards with corgi legs.  Others are tall, and some resemble Chow Chows. Hopefully, Momma won't do that again.  Finn is the tri-colored one and Ellie is the lovely redhead.  I can't stop smiling when I see them. 

Puppies = more simple pleasures.